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Our advice service

We provide advice to parents, grandparents, relatives, friends and kinship carers who are involved with children’s services in England or need their help. We can help you understand processes and options when social workers or courts are making decisions about your child’s welfare.

Our advice service is free, independent and confidential.

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By phone or email

To speak to an adviser, please call our free and confidential advice line 0808 801 0366 (Monday to Friday 9.30am to 3pm, excluding Bank Holidays). Or you can ask us a question via email using our advice enquiry form.

Discuss on our forums

Our online advice forums are an anonymous space where parents and kinship carers (also known as family and friends carers) can get legal and practical advice, build a support network and learn from other people’s experiences.

Advice on our website

Our get help and advice section describes the processes that you and your family are likely to go through, so that you know what to expect. Our webchat service can help you find the information and advice on our website which will help you understand the law and your rights.

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Children and Families Act 2014

We welcomed some provisions in the Children and Families Act 2014. This included the right of children in care to remain with their foster carers beyond 18 years old and improved support for adopters. But the Act did not grant similar support to kinship carers.

Family Rights Group lobbied for a number of changes to the bill while it was being debated in Parliament. These focused on clauses in the bill relating to:

  • Foster for adoption placements. We were concerned that the Bill grants power to local authorities to place a child with a prospective adopter without any court proceedings and therefore without some parents having had independent legal advice.
  • Weakening of consideration of the child’s race, culture, language and religion in adoption decisions.
  • Changes in provisions in relation to parental contact.
  • Reducing time-frame for care proceedings. We recognise the importance of preventing avoidable delay in court proceedings for a child. But we feared that the provisions could reduce the time available for parents to demonstrate their parenting abilities. And that these time constraints could squeeze out potential family carers from being considered by the court because there will simply not be enough time to consider their application (and support needs). We proposed an amendment which aimed to ensure that court timetabling is flexible where this is necessary for the child’s long term welfare.
  • Reducing court scrutiny of care plans. We proposed an amendment so arrangements for sibling placements were considered by the court when making a care order.
  • Effective support for looked after children returning home. We recommended a new duty on local authorities to assess, prepare, support and monitor the child’s welfare when they return home from the care system.

Read our bill briefing for MPs here.

House of Lords Select Committee Inquiry, 2022

The Select Committee on the Children and Families Act 2014 launched its post-legislative scrutiny inquiry, in March 2022.

Post-legislative scrutiny is an inquiry by a parliamentary select committee into how a new law has worked in practice since it came into force.

Family Rights Group submitted written evidence which you can read here.

Samantha Duffin, a member of Family Rights Group’s parents’ panel gave oral evidence to the Select Committee at a birth parent engagement event on 6th June.

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